08 March 2022
Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny has again called for protests against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Navalny is currently serving a prison sentence of over two years on what his supporters and Western legal experts call a false fraud charge.
The opposition leader urged his supporters to act through social media from a prison outside of Moscow. He wrote on Twitter on March 8 that anger against the war was building inside Russia. He said the anti-war feelings "will keep growing across the society, so the anti-war protests should not be halted."
Navalny also said Russians' reactions to the war "will largely define Russia's place in the history of the 21st century."
And he said it was important to show that Russian citizens do not support the policy of President Vladimir Putin.
"It's one thing if Putin killed Ukrainian civilians and destroyed life-critical infrastructure with full approval from the Russian citizens. However, it's a whole different story if Putin's bloody venture is not supported by the society," he added in a series of messages.
Last week, Navalny urged daily demonstrations against the war in the country's cities.
OVD-Info is a nonprofit organization that observes police arrests nationwide. It reported that police have detained more than 13,500 people for protesting against the war since Russia began its invasion on February 24.
Navalny said his aides and associates carried out a series of computer-based opinion studies. Each of the studies asked for the opinion of 700 people from Moscow. The results showed quick changes in the way people understand Russia's actions in the war.
While admitting the study was limited, the 45-year-old lawyer said it was still clear that "it took a few days of war to bring about radical mood changes among Russians."
He added that people are willing to change their opinion, but only if they are involved in a discussion and they are able to get "true information about the war."
At first, research by government-controlled groups carrying out public opinion studies in Russia suggested that Putin had majority support.
Studies by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center and the Public Opinion Fund said more than 60 percent of Russians support the war.
But some opinion experts suggest the studies are not correct. They said there would be less reported support if the firms had asked people whether they agree with the invasion of Ukraine. Instead, it was called a "special military operation." The Russian government is calling its actions in Ukraine: a "special military operation."
Navalny added that the leadership in Russia can see there has been a change in public opinion. He said that explains their "nervousness, and the desperate attempts to end the war campaign as soon as possible."
I'm Ashley Thompson.
Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty staff reported on this story for RFE/RL and Jamie Detmer reported on it for VOA News. Jill Robbins adapted it for Learning English.
Words in This Story
fraud – n. the crime of getting money by tricking or lying to people
infrastructure – n. the basic systems, such as transport and communication, that a country or organization uses in order to work effectively
venture – n. a new activity that may not be successful
mood – n. the way someone feels at a particular time
desperate – adj. feeling that you have no hope and are ready to do anything to change the situation you are in
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